A group of music industry big wigs, and intrigued conference delegates, took over Much headquarters Thursday afternoon to discuss the future of music for profit. While the representative from FACTOR was optimistic a new medium she can’t divulge details on will assure everyone makes money again, much of the rest of the dialogue focused on the decline of record labels in terms of their control of distributing music (interesting facts: Universal’s sales are down 35% this year, Warner is down to 12 artists domestically; not necessarily numbers symbolic of “major labels”).
What resonated with me the most was the willingness of a pair of reps who were so eager to verbally assault the very people they should to be trying to develop a rapport with (that's the consumer). One of the labels went as far as to ask George Pettit of Alexisonfire what his opinion is of a fan who asks him to sign a burned CD, to which he replied it meant a concert ticket (and possibly a t-shirt) sold. I don’t think George took too kindly either (well, I was there… he didn’t) to a suggestion from record labels that they may have to take a cut of his merch sales to stay afloat.
1) CDs, and therefore conventional record labels, are of diminishing relevance and will likely not survive the current evolution of the industry. Instead of blaming the consumer, they should look at creative ways of furthering bands instead of alienating their fanbases.2) No one in the Canadian industry is honest enough to place the blame on themselves for missing the boat entirely on Arcade Fire until they signed in the states.3) You don’t need a manager, publicist, etc… when you’re in a band until you achieve a level that you're too busy to do it yourself. In fact, you can do it better. “You don't need a manager to be in a band, you need a band to be in a band”- Kenny Bridges, Moneen.
While those were the key messages I came away with, it was a two-hour session and this is my best paraphrase.
Following a break, I decided to base at Lee’s Palace to avoid being left out in the (heat… it was like thirty degrees) for the BBC UK showcase featuring Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson, Ron Sexsmith, Melissa McClelland and Blue Rodeo.
Now, we all have nights like these when we're thrilled about the bands and just can’t get the energy up to stay awake. I refused to miss Kathleen Edwards, who played a superb set, but afterwards went back to the hotel to catch some zzz’s. Setting the alarm for 2AM, re-energized, I cabbed back to see the end of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland’s duet, and Blue Rodeo’s gig in the smallest venue they’ve played in Canada since 1991 (or before).
Tomorrow is supposed to be a quiet day while I recover, and the bands are less exciting (except for The Superfantastics). Talk soon.